2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo First Drive Review | The one to get

LONE PINE, Calif. — “We need a big bag of dog food, a thing of toilet paper and some groceries,” said my wife. “Let’s take the Porsche.” Her head was not inclined toward a Cayenne or Macan. She was indicating the new 2021 Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo, an electric Porsche *ahem* station wagon.

This was not how I planned to start my brief time with the Cross Turismo. But it was late afternoon, and all I really had scheduled was an overnight charge to ensure a full battery for the next morning’s range test. Porsche hasn’t released the Cross Tursimo’s EPA-rated range, so I planned to compare it to the Taycan Turbo and 4S sedans I’d previously run on my EV test loop.

But the shooting brake bodywork is the Cross Turismo’s most visible distinction, so off we went. As great as the Taycan sedan is, I would never choose one to fetch stuff like this. Its trunk is decent-sized, but the opening is slot-like. The Cross Turismo’s elongated roof and gaping hatch swallowed our goods easily, and this vastly improved access makes the extra space afforded by its fold-down seats much more than a theoretical talking point.

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The Taycan 4 Cross Turismo represents the lowest rung on the Cross Turismo ladder, but it has many advantages over the base Taycan sedan. The first is in the name, where the numeral 4 indicates all-wheel drive. It also comes standard with the 93.4 kilowatt-hour (gross total) “Performance Battery Plus” extended-range battery. The combination generates the same 375 horsepower (469 hp with launch control) as a rear-drive Taycan optioned with that battery, but the Cross Turismo bests it off the line because 368 pound-feet of combined torque from dual motors is considerably more than 250 lb-ft from a single rear-mounted motor.

Every U.S.-spec Cross Turismo will have a panoramic glass roof, but my test car lacked one because it’s a prototype with a Euro-spec metal roof. Even so, the increase in rear headroom is immense. My hair tickles a Taycan’s rear headliner, but I was well clear by 2 inches in the CT. The U.S.-spec glass roof will offer even more because glass has a thinner cross-section. So, not only can cargo fit more easily in the back, people will enjoy the extra space, too.

All Cross Turismos ride on PASM adaptive air suspension instead of the base sedan’s standard coils. But the air suspension here differs from the optional sedan system. The total range of motion is 52 millimeters instead of 42 mm, and the standard running height is either 20 mm or 30 mm higher than a sedan depending on whether or not you have the optional Off-Road Design Package, as my car had. To my eye, the extra height was invisible. The Cross Turismo’s stretched roofline makes it appear low and lean.

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Even before I started, I fully expected to devote over 7.5 hours to completing two full circuits of my 104-mile course around the rough perimeter of Orange County, California. I didn’t know at which of the 210-odd signals *per lap* I’d have to stop, but random chance evens things out when there’s that many. When done, I planned to add the remaining distance-to-empty miles to the trip odometer reading to get a projected range.

Why was I so confident in two laps without a rating to work from? My 2020 Taycan Turbo test result was 287.2 miles, and the 2020 Taycan 4S scored 300.5 miles. My borrowed Cross Turismo may have carried some extra 250 pounds, stood 0.6 inches higher and had a less favorable 0.26 coefficient of drag, but that wasn’t going to amount to a massive difference.

I used the Porsche’s Range driving mode because, well, this was a range test. The Taycan’s Range mode implementation does not make the throttle pedal feel limp and unresponsive, and Range mode’s Eco AC setting is able to keep up, too.

The scenery on this loop is pleasant, to say the least. It parallels the Pacific Ocean for quite some time, and with that comes beach and harbor views, outrageous seaside homes to gawk at and a parade of supercars going the other way.

I soon realized it was easier to see out the back and to the sides, too. The CT’s rear sheetmetal and hatch provide a much less slotlike rear view, and the extra window glass along the sides was noticeable when checking out adjacent lanes. From their reaction, other motorists and bystanders seemed to agree that it adds up to a stunning shape, too.

Another improvement seems to be the ride, which proved more compliant over cracked surfaces and the lumpier sagging pavement along the coast. Range mode’s low position is 20 mm higher than it is on the sedan, but I couldn’t confirm if that translates to a like amount of extra bump-stop clearance on the compression side.

After 7 hours and 38 minutes, I rolled into my driveway with 208.4 miles on the trip meter, 28% in the battery, and 76 miles of remaining range. That adds up to a projected total range of 284.4 miles, which is consistent with my Taycan sedan results. After a metered overnight fill-up, consumption worked out to 35.1 kWh per 100 miles. It would seem the Cross Turismo results amount to no more than a 5% range decrease relative to the sedan, possibly less.

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That takes care of suburbia, but the Cross Tursimo begs to be taken on road trips. But not just any road trip. Its higher stance comes with a Gravel mode that optimizes the suspension stiffness, ride height and traction control for loose surfaces. Its Off-Road Design Package includes lower-body protective elements that are intended to deflect stones from painted surfaces. As such, dirt had to get involved.

Next morning, after a full overnight recharge, I headed for the hills. Specifically, I went north toward Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills – a famous Western movie filming area of decades past, and the current go-to spot for countless Instagrammers. Yes, I planned to troll the rooftop-tent and #vanlife crowd on the washboard Movie Flat Road in an electric Porsche wagon.

But Movie Flat’s starting point is 237 miles from home. The route trends uphill all the way, and there’s a mountain pass to traverse. The Cross Turismo never felt the slight bit of strain – let alone effort – but gravity’s potential effect on range could not be ignored. Every off-roader knows it’s no good arriving at the trailhead with scant fuel. With that in mind, I planned to stop some 190 miles into the trip at an Electrify America (EA) station at Coso Junction. 

A stiff crosswind blew most of the way, but I could neither feel it in Porsche’s rock-solid steering nor hear it much as it intermittently gusted over the Cross Turismo’s sleek sheetmetal. But my hat nearly blew off as I hopped out and plugged in at Coso Junction with 192.1 miles and 24% battery on the trip meters. I busied myself taking Instagram shots as the car charged, then browsed in the market to escape the wind. The battery hit 80% and 208 miles of range after 23.5 minutes.

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Upon arriving at the trail 50 miles later, I engaged Gravel mode with a dedicated console button, which both raised the car and lowered the expected range. I paused at the turnoff for 10 minutes to take pictures, and lost count of the lifted Tacomas and 4Runners that swept past with smirking drivers. There were dusty Subarus and tourists in rented crossovers, too. Note to self: Never come here on a weekend.

Soon I found myself stammering down the graded washboard dirt road, my eyes toggling between the snow-capped eastern Sierra and the sharp, embedded rocks ahead. The air suspension did an admirable job of absorbing the worst of the washboard and geologic shrapnel, but you can’t expect miracles when you’re rolling on fully-aired, low-profile 20-inch summer performance tires.

I got out a couple of times, which meant that the car automatically reverted to its Normal mode and height each time I restarted the car. I had to remember to re-engage Gravel mode, which got me thinking about the wisdom of the Corvette’s GPS waypoint-memory front lift system.

Vehicles disappeared into campsites tucked between the boulders as I pressed on, but any temptation to “Send it!” was tempered by the deteriorating surface that featured an increasing proportion of pointy stones. Ah, well. Best to enjoy the view, keep the dust down and be thankful that the Cross Turismo with the Off-Road Design Package had enough clearance and extra bodywork protection to even consider coming here. It was the tires that ultimately held it back.

Back on pavement and with Range mode re-engaged, I turned south into a headwind toward an Electric America station, making it there with 33 miles to go and 14% battery. Turns out my scenic dirt-road detour hadn’t cost me any more than a paved road driven at highway speed. With an 80% charge achieved in 18.5 minutes, I had 210 miles of range to cover the remaining 125 miles home. No sweat, but then, there never really had been on this trip.

In the end, I’d covered 488 miles in 9.0 hours of switched-on time (mostly driving, some “idling”) and 42.5 minutes of mid-stream charge time. After figuring in my overnight top-up charge, the CT’s average road trip consumption had been an admirable 36.3 kWh per 100 miles.

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Pricing starts at $92,250, including destination for the 2021 Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo. A rear-drive Taycan sedan starts $11,000 less, but it doesn’t have the long-range battery, air suspension or the panoramic glass roof. You can add those three desirable options for $9,470, but at that point, you’re only $1,530 shy of a Cross Turismo and its dual-motor all-wheel drive, enhanced rear headroom, extra functionality and its own version of stunning good looks.

That makes the Cross Turismo the Taycan to get. Despite the sedan impressing with every range test and road trip I’ve done, there’s no denying its iffy rear visibility, marginal rear headroom and awkward trunk opening. The Cross Turismo proves you can improve on all of that and still end up with a stunning car that’s just as brilliant to drive. It’s essentially equal when it comes to range and road tripping, too, except you can journey to more varied places and tote more gear. And I have it on good authority that you can even use it to bring dog food, toilet paper and assorted groceries back from the market.

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